~ shame on you! on tour .13

/ Saint Petersburg, August 4, 2021

. St. Petersburg: Anna Akhmatova Museum. End of tour

The month flew by quickly. At the end of the tour Trixa Arnold and Ilya Komarov presented and discussed the performance at a meeting with the staff of the Anna Akhmatova Museum at the Fountain House. Ilya tells about the most difficult experience of the tour:

" The last day of our tour, the last performance is at the Anna Akhmatova Museum. In order, Zhanna met us at 4 pm. Together we looked at two possible rooms where we could present and discuss the performance. A very small company was planned, only employees of the museum and Sergei Vasilyev, auction manager, friend of the museum and our good friend. First we were treated to tea and apple pie. Then we settled in one of the rooms, very small, four by four meters in size. Everything was very intimate. Only from all of our performances it turned out to be the strangest.

We can say that we stumbled upon misunderstanding and rejection. Not everyone had such a reaction, but mainly two elderly ladies spoke: the directress and Tatyana Sergeevna, also a very respected employee of the museum. The young girls from the team did not say a word. Although we had a dialogue, understanding was completely absent. I felt out of place, there was a feeling that Trixa and I had to make excuses for something. I won't go into details, but it was an experience. A kind of experience. You have to be ready for this. Of the five songs, I sang only three, the rest seemed simply inappropriate to perform. An hour later we finished, the dialogue after the speech did not work out for us.

Tatyana Sergeevna took us through the house of Anna Akhmatova, talking about her life, about her shame. After that, we got the feeling that when you constantly talk about the shame of others, then the need to think about your own shame disappears. Apparently because of this, there could be a certain barrier between us. We had an unpleasant aftertaste and all evening Trixa and I discussed what happened – what could we do differently, why we could not find contact with these women. After that, we came to the conclusion that in our project it is important for the public to be ready for empathy. This was noticed by someone from the audience on this tour and we absolutely agree with him/her. After all our reasoning and a walk around the museum, we said goodbye to everyone and went with Sergei to drink beer. With that, our evening ended.

Now, while I am writing this message, we are sitting in a bus on the way to Tallinn. We crossed the Russian border an hour ago, it was a glorious tour. Thanks Gorod Ustinov, thanks Yura! We will digest everything properly and make a full report on our tour of Russia. It was cool! "

We are also grateful to our Swiss friends! For the courage to come at such a difficult time and readiness to respond to the experiment. Each point on the route, each site gave a unique experience. Thanks to all partners and audience!

Photo: Zhanna Televitskaya

. Anna Akhmatova Museum at the Fountain House

Anna Akhmatova is acclaimed in St. Petersburg not simply as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century but also as the foremost chronicler of the suffering and hardship endured by the city during the Stalinist Terror and the Second World War. For this reason, her former apartment in part of the Sheremetev Palace on the Fontanka Embankment is held in particular reverence, and houses one of the most emotionally moving museums in St. Petersburg.

One of the oldest palaces in St. Petersburg, this noble residence (which was nicknamed 'the Fountain House') was built in 1750 on land given by Peter I to Field-Marshal Count Boris Sheremetev in 1712. Until the October Revolution, it was home to five generations of the Count's descendants. Akhmatova's second husband, the poet and orientalist Vladimir Shileiko, tutored the last Count's children, and after the family fled she lived with him for two years in his lodgings in the northern wing of the palace. The apartment in the southern wing, which now houses the museum, was assigned to her third husband, the art historian Nikolai Punin, and Akhmatova lived there until her death in 1966.

As well as the poet's artefacts and original furniture, the museum's displays include thematic installations which trace Akhmatova's life featuring photographs, artwork, sculpture, and original manuscripts. Separate sections of the museum are dedicated to Akhmatova's son, the controversial historian and poet Lev Gumiliev, and to poet Joseph Brodsky. The latter befriended Akhmatova in her later life, and is widely considered her literary heir. He is commemorated here with a creative reconstruction of his study in South Hadley, Massachusetts, featuring videos of interviews with the poet. The museum also has two exhibition halls for temporary art exhibitions (usually by contemporary local artists) which often spill out into the building's garden.